BACKGROUND: An audience response system (ARS) is an electronic classroom communication device. There are several educational justifications for using ARS. Our controlled study investigated whether ARS use was associated with improved performance on a course exam. METHOD: This study used exam scores as the outcome and employed a switching replication design with a paired-samples t test analysis. The control and experimental groups differed only on whether students were expected to use ARS to enter data during lectures. RESULTS: The average scores on questions when ARS was used were statistically similar to scores when ARS was not used. A sign test on difference scores confirmed the result. Statistical power was adequate to detect at least a small effect size. CONCLUSIONS: Improvements in test scores found in previous studies may have been due to the inclusion of questions in the lecture rather than the use of ARS. Embedding questions into lectures is beneficial, either with or without ARS technology.
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